Not long ago, a young couple was on an airplane with their new baby. As the plane prepared for takeoff, the flight attendants gave their usual preflight safety instructions—how to buckle the seat belt, how to find the nearest exit. The father was only half-listening until he heard this instruction about what to do if oxygen levels dropped: “Secure your oxygen mask first, and then assist others.”
Holding his helpless infant in his arms, the father was unexpectedly stunned by these words. How could he possibly put an oxygen mask on himself before putting one on his son? It seemed so selfish, so contrary to the natural instincts in a father’s heart. Shouldn’t you always help your child first?
But the more he thought about it, the more he realized that he couldn’t offer his baby any safety at all if he wasn’t safe himself. He began to see that the principle applies not just to oxygen levels but also to spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being—everything he hoped to provide for his precious child.
Self-neglect does no good to others, any more than self-centeredness does. On the other hand, strengthening yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically puts you in a better position to offer the help you want to give. There’s nothing selfish about caring for yourself so you can provide better care to others.
That’s what makes self-care different from self-absorption—it’s motivated by love. And it doesn’t have to be time-consuming to be effective. Often a few consistent moments, repeated over time, make all the difference. Just as simple exercise builds physical strength, daily prayer improves our spiritual resilience. Daily planning helps us prepare mentally for the day’s demands. It shouldn’t be a choice between caring for yourself and caring for others. Both are needed, and they work in harmony. By doing things that fortify your body, mind, and spirit, you help those around you even as you help yourself.
This is how authentic and simple self-care becomes other-care. That’s what a young father learned while sitting in an airplane, holding a baby. And it’s what we all can learn as we seek to truly bless and help the people we love.
June 20, 2021
Broadcast Number 4,788
The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
O Clap Your Hands
The Lord My Pasture Will Prepare
Dmitri Bortniansky; arr. Mack Wilberg
Shaker song; arr. Richard Elliott
Harry Belafonte, Alan Greene, and Malvina Reynolds; arr. Michael Davis
R. Ross Boothe
Words and Music by David Willcocks
Based on Widor’s Toccata, from Organ Symphony no. 5